By Michael L. Tan
Last Friday I was on my way back to my office when I received a text from my secretary telling me that “the mothers of Empeño and Cadapan” had dropped in with the student regent, asking to meet me.
With the capture of retired military official Jovito Palparan, we remember the more than 1,000 students, youth leaders, peasant- and worker-leaders, journalists and activists who were killed, tortured and abducted during the Arroyo presidency and under Palparan’s Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2—among them, youth activists Karen Empeño, Sherlyn Cadapan, Cris Hugo, Ambo Guran and Farley Alcantara.
When government agents finally caught fugitive ex-general Jovito Palparan in Sta. Mesa, Manila, on Tuesday, he wasn’t dragged out of his hideout or beaten into submission.
No passing of time or surging adversity can make the families of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño and human rights defenders forget that fateful morning of June 26, 2006, when the two university students were forcibly taken by military men and herded like helpless sheep to the darkest depths where evil men perform unimaginable barbaric cruelties.
For some reason, the Court of Appeals ruling dated March 18 was not made public until March 27—in the middle of Holy Week. That made a Lenten interpretation of the decision finding an Army major responsible and the Philippine Army itself accountable for the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos all but inevitable.